It’s become almost a cliché, to point out that when we go to magic shows we want to be fooled.
Which pop culture television show or movie can we quote to represent this? The Prestige?
“Now you’re looking for the secret, but you won’t find it because, of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”
From fourth season of House: “How’d you do the trick?”
“Aw, if I explain, you’ll lose the actual magic.”
“The fun is in not knowing.”
“It’s meaningless until I explain it… If the wonder is gone when the truth is known, there was never any wonder.”
The magic show. The performance. One of the strange forms of entertainment where we attend for the lie. We ask to be lied to and we revel in the fact that we cannot figure it out, much as we might think we want to. We don’t want it to be fake. We want to go to the show to believe that magic is real, if just for a moment, the way we watch an illusion, to have our minds bent, to wonder for a moment, at the world not operating the way it was meant to.
We go for the lie, and in order to wonder at the lie. To hope for a moment that it might be true.
How different from any fiction? A film perhaps. A novel. Where the hero saves the day and gets the girl, that it all works out happily ever after or, should it not, there is at least meaning or reason. We watch and wonder if that might not be true in the world we’ll return to.
We’re finding meaning, truth, but a lie. We attend these movies, we attend the magic shows, knowing, however deep inside, that it’s a lie. But we want to believe. We love that we can’t see the strings. We love that no matter how hard we try, we may never know. And there’s joy in not knowing. And meaning.